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So I've seen a lot of posts about the anxiety and depression that often accompany PA school on here.

I've been there. A lot. I'm a first year PA student about halfway through didactic year. I didn't get diagnosed with a learning disability until after I finished undergraduate where I had spent years being told that I was too dumb to get into PA school and that I needed to start thinking about a new career. It too me three cycles of applying to get in and I was incredibly nervous to start because of how much I struggled in undergrad. I've also had some health issues this past few months which have required a lot of testing and sometimes missing lecture to go to specialty appointments. With everything going on, I have definitely failed some tests and had to complete remediation assignments. I didn't study after class because I would fall asleep sitting up at my desk from the constant fatigue. I hated myself because I couldn't just "work through" being sick and felt like a failure. I'm very lucky in that my program is very supportive. My adviser is constantly checking in with me and reminding me that I am not doing nearly as bad as I think I am. Plus, our program discourages the super competitive environment between classmates so we do a pretty good job of supporting each other. I'm doing better for the most part now, although I still have days where I don't feel confident. 

That being said. I've seen a lot of people on here talk about how their program isn't supportive and that they don't feel like they can go to their classmates because of the traditional "cut throat" environment. So I just want to say that if that is you (or even if it isn't), you can always message me. Whether you want to exchange study tips or just vent to someone not in your program, I'm here. PA school is hard and I think we need to support each other because trust me when I say, you are not alone. I've had classmates talk to me about experiencing anxiety for the first time in their life because of PA school. So, my inbox is always open if you need to talk. 

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Every student who goes through a hard patch feels like they are the only student having a hard time. There are always others in the class that feel the same way, even if they hide it a little better. Many people who come to PA school have been very high performing students and have never really struggled before. 

I've long felt that students who struggle a little in school turn into really good clinicians. Learning to deal with adversity is a valuable skill, and it will serve you well in your career. 

If you need study skills help, read Teach Yourself How to Learn by McGuire.

 

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On 3/12/2019 at 9:03 PM, SHU-CH said:

Every student who goes through a hard patch feels like they are the only student having a hard time. There are always others in the class that feel the same way, even if they hide it a little better. Many people who come to PA school have been very high performing students and have never really struggled before. 

I've long felt that students who struggle a little in school turn into really good clinicians. Learning to deal with adversity is a valuable skill, and it will serve you well in your career. 

If you need study skills help, read Teach Yourself How to Learn by McGuire.

 

I completely agree. I just want to make sure people know it's ok to talk about. Especially for those who for whatever reason feel that they can't talk to people involved in their own program.  

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feeling like you are not doing well enough is an occupational hazard. Just the other day at my solo job we had a big trauma requiring a lot of interventions in a short amount of time, coordination with specialists and lifeflight, etc. After it was over people were telling me how well they thought it went and that they were impressed with the quick eval , stabilization, and transfer and all I could think was that my u/s fast exam was not good enough and I had to rely on CT findings to make a diagnosis....unreasonable, probably, but I felt like I was winging it while the nurses and techs all thought it went smoothly....

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3 hours ago, EMEDPA said:

feeling like you are not doing well enough is an occupational hazard. Just the other day at my solo job we had a big trauma requiring a lot of interventions in a short amount of time, coordination with specialists and lifeflight, etc. After it was over people were telling me how well they thought it went and that they were impressed with the quick eval , stabilization, and transfer and all I could think was that my u/s fast exam was not good enough and I had to rely on CT findings to make a diagnosis....unreasonable, probably, but I felt like I was winging it while the nurses and techs all thought it went smoothly....

No one knows what's going on inside your mind. If you look calm, people just assume you are, even if you're really not. And "calm" is worth a lot in critical situations.

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I have a question I have yet to find the answer to, and it seems like this discussion may hold an answer for me. I am not necessarily struggling with the work load, but I am repeatedly getting sick as a result from my anxiety regarding my program. There is a lot of internal struggle within my cohort, and everyone is trying to push up the curve. It feels like most of my class want each other to fail. There is no cohesive community, and I am thoroughly disappointed by it. I have been to the doctors nine times in the last 6 months, and I can't seem to stay better. It is a down right hostile environment, and I honestly want to know if there is anything I can do to fix it? I know the question is slightly tangential, but I would appreciate your help. 

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19 hours ago, HopefulStudent3187 said:

I have a question I have yet to find the answer to, and it seems like this discussion may hold an answer for me. I am not necessarily struggling with the work load, but I am repeatedly getting sick as a result from my anxiety regarding my program. There is a lot of internal struggle within my cohort, and everyone is trying to push up the curve. It feels like most of my class want each other to fail. There is no cohesive community, and I am thoroughly disappointed by it. I have been to the doctors nine times in the last 6 months, and I can't seem to stay better. It is a down right hostile environment, and I honestly want to know if there is anything I can do to fix it? I know the question is slightly tangential, but I would appreciate your help. 

Similar situation to my program. Recently when another student was asked why he constantly asks others what grade they got on tests, his response was "it's the only way I can feel good about myself knowing others are doing worse." It's a horrendous attitude. I had a LOT of anxiety first semester, particularly about testing and grades. It's better now - I have found a couple of close friends who don't discuss grades (for the most part), and actually the majority of the class has calmed down quite a bit regarding competition/comparisons, though it still exists and I hate it. I also got on beta blockers to help with the test anxiety. There's not much to be done about it, just keep your head down and see if you can find one or two people who feel the same as you do. You'll get through didactic, it just might be without the support of your cohort, which truly sucks. 

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Hmm I'm not exactly sure what advice to give as to fix it if that is the culture. Does the program promote it or are they unaware of what is going on? Our class made a facebook page and we commonly use it to ask questions that we need clarification or to share study guides. You could maybe try making one of those to see if you can get the ball rolling as far as increasing cooperation. Other than that, I'm not sure what to tell you. If that environment doesn't change, I would recommend finding a support system outside of your class. Forums like this can be a good place to start. 

 

The only other thing I can recommend for your own peace of mind is to avoid that. If you are around people with a toxic attitude, it is very easy to get sucked into that. Show up to class, do your thing, and then leave so you're not exposed to that because it will take a toll on your mind and body. 

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